Church of the Ascension, Montgomery, AL
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.
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.
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
Very much a Cathedral city
and dominated by it, the existing building was started in 1180 continued in
stages until 1424. Many of the buildings in the Cathedral precincts are
used today for much the same purposes as that for which they were originally
built. The Vicars Close consists of a cobbled street with a total of 42
small houses built in the 14th Century for the Vicars of the Cathedral.
The Cathedral school was started in 909 and while closing for one short period
of 6 years in 1861 now records over 600 pupils. On the West front there
are 294 sculptures left of the original 386 some damaged beyond recognition, 3
new ones were unveiled by the Prince of Wales in 1985. The Chapter House
reached by an ancient stone stairway is octagonal in shape and part of a two
storey building, could be one of the most beautiful Chapter Houses in Britain.
The Cathedrals South doors lead to beautiful 15/16th Century cloisters
Built over 800 years
ago and still the ancestral home of the Berkeley family who still live there,
the family, of course, have close associations with Berkeley U.S.A. The
oldest castle in Britain to have been continuously lived in by the same family.
Built as a fortress and used as a home, during its chequered history it has been
the scene of sieges during the civil war and terrible deeds. Its walls in
some places over 14 feet thick, turrets and towers stand majestic. This
was the scene in 1327 of the frightful murder of Edward II, he was imprisoned in
a cell close to the castle dungeon, a deep pit into which rotting carcasses and
half alive prisoners were thrown. It was anticipated the stench and filth
from the dungeon would overpower the prisoner in the cell. However Edward
survived for 5 months and ended up being tortured to death by his jailers.
The castle is also the site of the great hall where the West Country Barons met
before setting off to meet King John for the signing of Magna Carta in 1215.
Small but a real example of how we think a castle should look.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
It is believed by many
people that under the waters of a spring on the slopes of its Tor Joseph of
Arimathea buried the chalice used at the last supper. That when on a
nearby hill, he thrust his thorn staff into the ground it took root to produce
the distinctive Glastonbury Winter flowering thorn tree, and that, on what was
later to be the site of the great Abbey round which the town grew, he built a
church of daub and wattle. Briefly this is the legend which has drawn
pilgrims to this place for centuries. In 688, King Ine of Wessex gave it a
Monastery, majestic, rich and the most beautiful in Britain which is clear from
the ruins of the church. It is also believed that King Alfred and Queen
Guinevere were re-buried in the Abbey. In the town St Johns church is a
fine 15th Century example. The George Inn was built in the 15th Century to
lodge pilgrims and the handsome market cross is 19th Century.