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First Congregational Church, Columbus, OH
Choir Director Kevin Jones
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Windsor                                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.
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Windsor Castle                   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.
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St. Georges 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 castle.
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London the 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.
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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.
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Westminster hall
   
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River Thames                     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 present day. 
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Westminster Abbey                          Legend has it that the first Church built on Thorney Island in the Thames was built by King Segbert in the 7th Century, there is also mention of a Charter from King Offa of Mercia to the people of Westminster granting land.  We also have a Charter from King Edgar in the 10th Century for the restoring of the Benedictine Abbey.  It is also written that a substantial foundation existed in Westminster when King Edward the Confessor became King in 1042.  We do know that Edward started to build a Church here close to the previous building and it was consecrated on 28th December 1065.  Eight days later Edward died and he was buried in front of the high altar.
William the Conqueror was crowned in that Abbey on Christmas Day 1066. this Coronation began a tradition and all Kings and Queens of England (Britain) with the exception of Edward V & Edward VIII have been crowned in the Abbey since that date.
Work began in 1245 in rebuilding the Abbey. The work proceeded rapidly and by 1269 the Quire and one bay of the Nave was completed.  At this time the body of St Edward was removed and laid to rest in a Chapel bearing his name.  In 1272 Henry III died and his body was buried in the front of the high alter where Edward`s had once lain.
The complete history of this famous Abbey would take many pages to write, hence it is possibly to conclude by saying “many Kings and Queens together with famous people lie buried within its walls and therefore this one building is a unique testament to 1,000 years of the history of the British people”.

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Cabinet War Rooms         In 1940 as the bombs rained down on London, Winston Churchill, his Cabinet, his Chiefs of Staff and intelligence chiefs were meeting below ground in a fortified basement in Whitehall, later to be known as the Cabinet War Rooms.  They offered shelter in which to work, sleep and live for as long as necessary.  When the war ended the lights were switched off and the rooms left silent and untouched for many years.  The rooms were in operational use from 27th August 1939 to the Japanese surrender in 1945 the war cabinet held more than 100 meetings in these somewhat cramped rooms.  Without doubt some of the most important decisions of the Second World War were taken here. 
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Banqueting House            Completed in 1622 and designed by Indigo Jones, it was the first building in London to embody the classical Palladium style together with the use of Portland stone in the construction.  Built originally as a part of Whitehall Palace it was the only building to escape the great fire which destroyed the Palace in 1698.  The main hall is 115ft long and 60ft wide but it is the ceiling which catches the eye.  Painted by Rubens for Charles 1st in 1629-34 it depicts the Apotheoses of the Stuart Dynasty in nine panels, which should be viewed from the far end of the room.  In 1649 Charles 1st stepped out of one of the windows of the hall on his way to the scaffold erected outside in the yard, to his execution.  Ironically Charles II celebrated his restoration to the throne here 20 years later.  Still used for state banquets and official functions by the Government and the Queen.  
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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.
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Horse Guards Parade      The former tiltyard or jousting field of Whitehall Palace, used for the ceremony of Trooping the Colour each June to celebrate the Queens official birthday.  The Horse Guards building by which one enters the parade ground from the direction of Whitehall was reconstructed in 1750 prior to which it was the gatehouse of the Palace of Westminster.  The horse mounted guards who stand duty under two archways either side of the clock tower stand guard for just one hour at a time not all day.  The soldiers belong either to the Life Guards (red tunics & white plumes) who formed the bodyguard for Charles I or the Royal Horse Guards (blue with red plumes) who grew out of a regiment formed by Cromwell.  Both regiments now belong to the Household Cavalry which provides the Queens Bodyguard on all state occasions.
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Buckingham Palace         Until the 18th Century the original site was occupied by Buckingham House which was bought by George III in 1762.  When George IV acceded the throne in 1820 he commissioned John Nash to build a palace fit for a King on the same site.  Much of the original structure and decoration survives to this day.
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The British Monarchy
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London Eye                        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.
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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.
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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, Wellington and 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.
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British Museum                 Founded in 1753, it is the oldest museum in the world.  The original collection was started by the physician Sir Hans Sloane but over the years it as been added to many times over.  The immense hoard of artefacts spans nearly 2 million years of world history.  It is stored in 94 galleries covering over 2 miles of displays.  Some of the treasures include Egyptian mummies, the Mildenhall Saxon silver tableware found after being ploughed up in a Suffolk field in 1942, Lindow man preserved in a bog since the first century AD, pottery from Greece and Rome, Lindisfarne Gospels from the 7th Century, an original copy of Magna Carta from 1215. Together with specimens from all over the world which bring the very history of our civilisation alive.
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Imperial War Museum      Established in 1920, it has a huge pair of navel guns in front of the porch. the building once formed part of the Bethlehem Hospital for the insane known as Bedlam.  You can still see some of the upstairs windows barred.  The building was Severely damaged during the Second World War.  The museum displays model ships and other instruments of war, the museum also holds a library of war documents, books and photographs for reference.
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Kensington Palace          A Royal residence since 1689 when William III and Mary II commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to convert Nottingham House into a Royal Palace.  Since that time the palace has seen many royal and momentous events, including the birth of Queen Victoria at 4.15pm on the 24th May 1819, her first meeting with the privy council in 1837.  Part of the palace remains a private royal residence but access to many of the state apartments is allowed.
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Kew Gardens                     The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew are the worlds most famous gardens, set up as a scientific institution for the accurate identification and classification of plants and plant materials and for the distribution of botanical information to all parts of the world.  Kew is also a quarantine station for plants being sent from one country to another.  It trains botanists and gardeners for establishments all over the world, in the course of its work over many years, over 25,000 specimen plants have been assembled.  The first garden on this site belonged to Augusta, mother of George III, she lived in Kew house and in 1759 had a garden of 9 acres planted here  The garden was acquired for the state in 1841 Queen Victoria also gave property to the garden in 1898.  In 1904, the whole 300 acres of the site became the property of the state, to fulfil its scientific and popular functions.  The park now houses a tranquil temperature house with a rich collection of plants from all over the world, a rhododendron dell, landscaped by Capability Brown, the restored Japanese gateway and more than 9,000 trees throughout the gardens.
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St. Martins in the Field      The present church designed by James Gibbs was completed in 1726.  However St Martin in the Fields has been a place of worship since 1220.  The parish boundary passes through Buckingham Palace.  Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was a parishioner and the Prince of Wales although baptised in the palace his record is kept in the baptism book held in the church.  The church is renown for its choral music the organ being one of the finest in Europe.  The church plays host and is famous for its lunchtime concerts given free on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at 1.05pm
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Tate Modern                       
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The Cotswolds               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.
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Cotswold Images

Gloucester                      Began life as a Roman fort which guarded the lowest Severn crossing and the legions route into Wales (Glevum).  The city later became the residence of Norman Kings, while here William the Conqueror decided on the Doomsday survey.  The city has long been an inland port with its own harbour master.  Famous for its Cathedral it has also been the focal point of other important historic occurrences.  The city's main thoroughfares still follow the Roman roads and meet at the Cross.  In Brunswick Street is a memorial to Robert Raikes who founded the Sunday School movement in nearby St Catherine Street.  The New Inn in Northgate Street was a half timbered 15th Century pilgrims hostelry.  The Ravern Tavern in Hare Lane, once the home of the Hoare Family who sailed in the mayflower to New England.
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Gloucester Cathedral                    The present Cathedral was started in about 1089 by a monk called Serlo from Mont St Michael in France.  The building was consecrated in 1100 though work did continue for some years to come.  The great East window is the largest Medieval window in Europe.  A central tower was built approx 1450 to replace the Norman one.  The tower stands 225 feet high and is one of the glories of Gloucester, seen for miles around.  The first appearance is of a Gothic Cathedral, but further close inspection will reveal its Norman structure.  The cloisters are amongst the finest in England and are the earliest fan vaulted cloister still in existence.  They were built in the 14th Century and contain a magnificent lavatorium in the North range and study carrels in the South range.  The Kings school is very much a part of the foundation, where the Cathedral Choristers are educated.  Music is very much a part of the tradition of Gloucester and is the venue every 3 years for the three choirs festival.
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Bath                    The Romans built a city here and called it Aquae Sulis.  It grew up around the Baths establishment, one of the foremost of its kind in the Western empire.  Its remains form an impressive monument to Roman Britain.  In the 18th Century Bath became a fashionable resort for society presided over by Beau Nash.  It was at this time that the work of providing a suitable environment began.  From the early 1700s - to the early 1800s many beautiful buildings, streets, squares and crescents were completed.  The pump room in 1795 and the only bridge left in England built with shops, Pulteney Bridge completed in 1777 by William Pulteney.  The city abounds with acres of parks and gardens which sets off the formality of the Georgian architecture.  The town name means bath, it is not Roman but a pure English word.  The Romans did originally call the area Aquae Calidae (hot waters) then Aquae Sulis (waters of sulis, referring to their pagan god) the Anglo-Saxon name was Akemanchester, which is generally regarded as being derived from the latin Aquae (ake) and the Roman road of Akeman Street which ran via Bath.  Also the old English word Ceaster meaning Roman Fort.
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Web Link to Roman Baths

Bath Abbey        A Saxon Abbey first stood on this site followed by a Norman one.  It was not until 1499 that a Gothic Church was erected.  Progress was very slow and by the dissolution only the choir and the walls had been completed.  However the west front had certainly been given its famous turrets and ladders.  After the dissolution the Abbey was looted and the church was given to the parish.  The building was soon enclosed by houses and the North aisle became a walk through for towns people.  In 1864 a new rector Charles Kemble at his own expense began a reconstruction of the building.  Hence what we see today is a Victorian replica of the original Tudor designs.
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Blenheim Palace          The home of the present 11th Duke of Marlbrough.  The first Duke John Spencer gave battle to the Frence and Bavarian forces at the village of Blenheim in 1704.  He took a force of 50,000 men on a 600 mile march to the Danube were the enemy was waiting in a strong position.  By tactical brilliance and by the personal inspiration he gave his troops, he achieved a great victory.  When he returned to England he was created a Duke and granted the Royal Manor of Woodstock with a promise that a sumptuous palace should be paid for by a grateful country.  The architect of Blenheim Palace was John Vanbrugh who worked with Nicholas Hawksmoor on both Blenheim and Castle Howard in Yorkshire.  Marlborough went on to other famous victories at Ramillies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet.  The Palace was built between 1705 & 1722, it is set in over 2,000 acres of parkland (landscaped by Capability Brown) Blenhalm Palace is the birthplace of Sir Winstone Churchill who was born here on the 30th November 1874.
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Tintern                             Large impressive Cistercian Abbey in beautiful riverside location in the Wye valley.  It has been the subject of a poem by Wordsworth and a painting by Turner.  The order was founded in 1131 by Walter de Clare.  Little is left of the original building, it was built here deliberately, in keeping with the strictness and austerity of the order.  The abbey was completely rebuilt in the 13th Century and in 1326 Edward II stayed here for 2 nights.  The Abbey continued to be active and generally undisturbed until the dissolution in 1536.   From then on the Abbey became neglected and fell into disrepair.  Greatly regarded by the romantic movement in the late 18th Century for its peace and tranquillity.
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Chepstow Castle            Is one of the very first stone castles in Britain.  Built by the Normans soon after the Battle of Hastings, it was started by William Fitzosbern in 1067.  It was never attacked in the Middle ages but was besieged twice in the Civil War when being held by the King.
In various places one can see old red sandstone and yellow sandstone.  The castle stands on a natural limestone ridge with the North face falling on to a steep vertical cliff into the River Wye.  The castle occupies a very important position on the River Wye.  Being a very strategic crossing point from England to Wales.  Chepstow comes from the Olde English words of “Ceap Stow” meaning market place.
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Cardiff                                The capital city of Wales boasts a castle with 1,900 years of history first built by the Romans, some of the 10ft thick walls still remain.  The Normans came and built their castle which has been in continuous occupation ever since.  Some of the area surrounding the castle is now occupied by a superb modern shopping centre.  Hundreds of acres of parkland situated right in the city centre, museums, the civic centre, University of Wales. St Davids Hall, a 2,000 seat concert and conference centre.  To take the city into the millennium the new Cardiff Bay project, a redevelopment of the old Cardiff docks area.
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Oxford                              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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Christchurch, Oxford                     Quite unique, a Cathedral serving the Diocese of Oxford and a College Chapel serving Christ Church College.  It was made a Cathedral by King Henry VIII in 1545 after cardinal Wolsey had made it a Chapel of the College in 1525.  The building however dates back to the 12th Century when it was a priory of Augustianain Cannons.  The first recorded church on the site was in the 8th Century.  The spire incidentally, constructed during the 13th Century was the first in England the lovely Gothic chancel added in the year 1500.  A superb collection of stained glass windows still exists dating back the 14th Century with the oldest being the magnificent Becket window in the South transept (a rare example of 14th Century glass in situ).
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