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Metropolitan United Church, London, Ontario
Director of Music, Gregg Redner

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Chester           A combination of Roman and Medieval relics, as well as many fine timber framed buildings, makes Chester (Roman city of Deva, one of England's most interesting cities.  Roman occupation in the later 1st Century made Chester an important military point.  During most of the Roman occupation it was the headquarters of one of the three Roman legions in Britain.  The present city wall follows the line of the Roman wall and in places incorporates pieces of it.  The most important Roman area is the amphitheatre.  It is the largest amphitheatre so far discovered in Britain.  Built of stone it covers an area of 314ft by 286ft with an arena of 190ft by 162ft.  The rows, a unique feature of the city can be found in Watergate Street, Eastgate Street and Bridge street.  You can inspect modern shops in the appropriate stretches of the streets, take the first flight of stairs you find between shops and find yourself walking on the roofs of the shops besides another row of shops set further back, an interesting form of pedestrian precinct.
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Chester Cathedral                        During Saxon times King Aethelred of Mercia is credited with founding the church of St Peter & St Paul on this sandstone mound.  It is also reported that the bones of Mercian Princess and Nun St Werburgh where bought to the church for safe keeping to be protected from the Danes.  The church being re-dedicated to her.  In 1092 St Anselm from the Benedictine monastery of Bec in Normandy arrived to build a monastery next to the church.  The small Minster containing St Werburgh`s bones was therefore enlarged and became the Abbey Church.  Just prior to the dissolution of the Monasteries in 1540 the bones of St Werburgh were moved to a safe place out of reach of the soldiers of Henry VIII.  Fortunately they were stored very safely, so safe their whereabouts are still unknown to this day.  However during this period of upheaval the Abbey Church came through the reorganisation very well and by 1541 it was designated as the Cathedral Church of the newly formed diocese of Chester and rededicated to Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The Church & Monastery survived the worst of the dissolution process and the buildings we have today are seen as they were intended all those years ago.  The refectory is superb, the cloisters which up-to one hundred years ago were still not glazed, now provide a wonderful oasis in which to walk.  Do look at the quire stalls and misericords, being of wood construction they have weathered far better over the ages than the soft sandstone construction of the building which has needed constant repair.  These original carved workings are certainly a direct link with the monks of the Middle ages and are possibly the Cathedrals greatest treasure.
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Conwy                              The mighty castle and complete town walls on the river bank make Conwy a picturesque and richly historic centre.  It is probably one of the finest and most complete walled towns in Europe.  The walls themselves are over three quarters of a mile in length with 22 towers and three original gateways.  Conwy`s setting on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park and the Western bank of the River Conwy is unrivalled, as is its colourful history.  The Romans arrived in the area during the First Century A.D. and many invading kings from the East endured great hardship trying to cross the river to subdue the Welsh Princes on the Western bank.  When Edward I did eventually seize the bank, he built a castle to strengthen his position.  The population now spreads beyond the town walls to nearby Deganwy and Llandudno.  Along the quay in the shelter of these ancient walls is an old world full of interest.  Together with a house reputed to be the smallest in Britain and furnished as a mid Victorian Welsh cottage.
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Conwy Castle                  The castle was built by Edward I between 1283 and 1289.  He made it his headquarters for the struggle against the Welsh Prince Llywelyn.  Edward was himself besieged there by a large Welsh force from the hills in 1290.  The castle`s shape is actually dictated by the very rock on which it stands.  It has barbicans at either end and eight massive towers.  First impressions are of tremendous strength, a dominating position and yet with a compactness of design which renders it one of the most picturesque Welsh castles.
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Llandudno                        Wales`s premier seaside resort, unspoilt with its carefully preserved Victorian architecture and superb natural setting.  Fine shops, cafes, restaurants and local attractions.  Set in a crescent shaped bay, the promenade adjoins the wide 2 mile long sandy beach guarded by cliffs at both ends.
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Tewkesbury                    An attractive old town with a wealth of ancient houses and timbered inns.  The Hop Pole being a good example, with a fine 14th Century fireplace before which, in dickens book, Mr Pickwick warmed his coat tails.  Tewkesbury is famous for 2 reasons.
Firstly it is was the scene of one of the bloodiest last battles of the Wars of the Roses.  On 4th May 1417, between Queen Margaret of Anjou for the Lancastrians and Edward IV for the Yorkists.  The Lancastrians where routed, quite a number finding refuge for the night in the Abbey before being turned out the next day, when they were arrested by the Yorkist followers and all executed in the town square.  The site of the battle is well known and can be seen clearly from Lincoln Lane just off the main A38 road.  The battle place is still known locally as Bloody Meadow. 
Secondly the Abbey, their is evidence that Monks were settled in the town by 715 and built a small church in the meadows by the river.  The present Abbey is Norman built between 1090 & 1121 by Robert Fitzhamon a kinsman of William the Conqueror.  The Abbey prospered for over 400 years before being handed over to King Henry VIII in 1540.  The townspeople to their horror, about to see their abbey being destroyed rallied round and raised the enormous sum (16th Century standards ) of £453 to purchase the church for their own use.  The Abbey's tower is the largest and finest surviving Norman central tower anywhere in the world, 46 feet square and 148 feet high.  The West front is dominated by the Great Norman recessed arch 65 feet high.  The massive wooded doors of the North porch are almost certainly the original circa 1121.  It is the second largest parish church in England.  The Abbey is 311 feet East to West, it is held up by 14 great Norman columns, which are the tallest in England, 31 feet high and 6 feet in diameter.  The 7 choir windows contain the original 14th century glass, in the centre of the choir is a brass plate which marks the burial place of Edward of Lancaster, Prince of Wales, who was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury.  The chapels around the Abbey celebrate some of the families who have been associated with it during its long and somewhat turbulent history.
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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

Cheltenham                   Set on a sheltered ridge between the high Cotswolds and the Severn Vale the town enjoys a pleasant and equable climate.  Cheltenham is one of the finest Spa towns in Europe, with a wealth of regency houses bordering elegant squares, crescents, terraces and open spaces.  George III an inveterate frequenter of spas, visited the town in 1738 and set his seal of approval by staying at Bayshill lodge.  Lansdown Place and Montpellier Parade, among similar thoroughfares and the Rotunda, the design for its dome being based on the Pantheon in Rome.  Montpellier walk with its shops separated by Caryatids must be one of the most unusual shopping precincts in the world.  Out on the Bath Road are two of Cheltenham`s famous schools, Cheltenham College for boys was originally built between 1841 and 1843.  With the nearby Cheltenham Ladies college founded by Miss Beale, the ardent Victorian champion of good education for girls.
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Bristol                 Once one of the most important ports in the country, the earliest records of its commercial activity going back to Edward II in the 10th Century when silver coins were minted here.  All this due to the fact that the River Severn and Avon was navigable to this point.  It was from Bristol in 1497 that John Cabot and his Bristol born son Sebastian set sail with 18 sailors in the 100 ton ship “Matthew” before reaching the mainland of America in Newfoundland.  A centre for trade and commerce for over 1,000 years, the city still has much to offer and although the large container ships now dock at the entrance to the Avon Gorge at Avonmouth, much activity still remains around the old dock side area.
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Bristol Cathedral                Formerly an Augustinian Abbey founded in 1142 by Robert Fitzharding.  In 1542 it became the Cathedral Church of the newly formed Diocese of Bristol.  It still retains much of its Norman solidarity, particularly the fine Chapter House.  The Church building is known as a “Hall Church” type where high Chancel, aisles and an Eastern Lady Chapel are of equal height.  The Choir is full of absolutely fine woodwork dating back to the 1500s and the Misericords of great interest depicting as they do Biblical scenes.  The organ was built in 1685 by Renatus Harris and all the pipework is original.  Grinling Gibbons created the superb organ case. Choristers are educated at the adjoining Cathedral school.  One important feature in the Berkeley Chapel: a Medieval candelabrum (understood to be the only one of its kind in England recorded) has being given to the Temple Church in Bristol during 1450 and passed on to its present home during the terrible blitz of World War Two.
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St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol             A superb example of Medieval architecture and once described by Queen Elizabeth Ist on a visit to Bristol as “the fairest, goodliest and most famous parish church in the kingdom” in all respects it is the size of a Cathedral with a 240ft Nave and a Spire added in the 19th Century rising 285ft from street level.  The Church owes much of its construction to William Canynge in the 14th Century and further work completed by his son.
Admiral Sir William Penn whose son also a William founded Pennsylvania is buried in the South Transept.  The close links with the United States are further strengthened by the restoration of the St John`s Chapel by the friends of St Mary Redcliff in America.

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Powderham Castle                The Manor of Powderham was mentioned in the Doomsday book. It came into the Courtenay family by way of the dowry of Margaret de Bohun on her marriage to Hugh de Courtenay son of the first Courtenay Earl of Devon. Margaret bore her Lord nine daughters & eight sons and from this marriage descends all the subsequent Courtenays Earls of Devon.  She left the Castle to her Sixth son Philip and it was he who began building the castle as we see it today in 1319.
After a very eventful history the castle passed down the family to the 17th Earl who died in 1998 aged 82.  He was succeeded by his only son who managed the estate for many years, he had three daughters and one son called Charles.  Powderham is very much as it was when Fowlers renovations were completed in the 19th Century.  However the 17th Earl made a new entrance on the north side in 1959 when the castle was first opened to the public, built a new flat for him and his wife and made some alterations to their private garden.
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Dawlish              A lovely seaside town with nice beaches and an outstanding feature of a lawn, laid out in 1813 along the stream which flows through the town, with tiny waterfalls and black swans from Australia, given to the town in 1937.
Dawlish was the birthplace of Charles Dickens’s Nicholas Nickleby. Between the town and the beach runs Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s famous coastal hugging railway, the main London to Penzance route. Follow the line as it navigates the embankment behind the beach.
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Cirencester                    The Capital of Dobuni when as Corinium Dobunorum in 43A.D. it became one of the chief Roman administration centres for South West of England.  In the 4th Century with the withdrawal of the Romans the town went into decline until an Anglo Saxon town was built.  It slowly regained its importance with the development of sheep rearing on the rich Cotswold meadow lands.  The wealth from the wool trade was tremendous, so much so that the merchants of the town were able to build one of the greatest wool churches in the town.  The 15th Century St John the Baptist Church with its superb tower and three storied fan vaulted porch.  It has been judged one of the most beautiful perpendicular churches in England.
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Burford                           Can certainly lay claim to being one of the most beautiful Cotswold towns.  A superb High Street slopes gently down to a three arch bridge spanning the River Windrush.  Some of the buildings such as the Bear Inn, Crown Inn and the Grammer School can readily identify their roots in the 15th Century.  A fine church exists, St John, hidden from view down a lane at the foot of the High Street.  A wonderful mixture of accretion (add on's as and when money became available or persons so decided) the tower is definitely Norman so is the West Doorway.  The Guild of Merchants chapel circa 1200 but remodelled in the 15th Century.  In May 1649 Cromwell imprisoned a group of mutineers in the church for 3 nights after which they were to be shot.  When three had been executed Cromwell relented, one of the group “Sedley” scratched his name on the font.  In even earlier times the Anglo Saxons defeated the Mercians at the battle of Edge now a playing field near the church.  It is also written that in 683 a council was convened at Burford attended by the King of Mercia at which the date of Easter was fixed for the English church.  The wealth of the region coming from the surrounding sheep country during the middle ages.  To really appreciate Burford take time to walk the High Street.
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The Village Inn, Twyning                    Set in the lovely village of Twyning on the banks of the River Avon.  The Village Inn is recorded on local maps as long ago as 740AD and was mentioned in the Doomsday book of 1086.  A very busy Inn dating back to about 1457, nice garden to the rear and overlooks the village green at the front.
Do watch out for the original low ceilings, a delight, but do watch your head, which together with home cooked food, makes this very much a little piece of real England.
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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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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. George's 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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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 Hall                This ancient hall is 290ft long, 68ft long 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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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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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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Covent Garden                  Believed to have been the Convent Garden of St Peters, Westminster, where the Monks sold surplus vegetables.  In 1638 the area was very residential developed by Indigo Jones, with arcaded walks based on the Piazza D` Arme at Livorno.  In 1671 by right of charter it became a small market which gradually filled the Piazza.  In 1830 the 6th Duke of Bedford rebuilt it in its present form.  It became the largest fruit, vegetable and flower market in the country.  Since the market moved South of the river the area has been redeveloped.  Still keeping the magnificent canopy and many of the buildings from the early 1800s. the area is now well known for its restaurants, shops, market stalls and of course the Royal Opera House.  The Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London Transport Museum, Theatre Museum and much, much more.
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New Globe Theatre           Situated on the South bank as close as possible to the site of the original Globe Theatre stands the New Globe.  Faithfully reconstructed to the Elizabethan design using the same materials.  The Globe now stands as a fitting memorial to Shakespears work and also to the vision of the late actor/director Sam Wanamaker whose dream it was to rebuild a theatre in the round.
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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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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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