A very pleasant small
very English town. Made famous by the cathedral which sits in a lovely
close just on the edge of town. The close contains some fine buildings,
including the Deanery dating from the time of William and Mary. The
Bishops House and the Palace dating back to 1687 and which is now used as the
Cathedral School. These superb buildings surround the Cathedral and
together with the most attractive lawns provide a wonderful back drop to the
Cathedral architecture. It is said by many to be the most complete close
of any English Cathedral. The town as a cobbled market square, narrow
streets and many links with Dr Johnson, (his birthplace on the corner of
Breadmarket Street) in Beacon Street is the house where Dr Erasmus Darwin lived
(grandfather of Charles). At the far end of market square is a memorial to
Edward Wightman, who was burnt at the stake there for heresy on 11th April 1612,
the last person so to die in England. A commercial town rather than
industrial with strong links with the land. Obvious when its position set
in the midst of rolling countryside is considered.
Dominating the skyline
of Lichfield are the three lovely spires of the Cathedral “known locally as the
ladies of the vale”. The only Cathedral in England with three spires.
The first Cathedral on the site was recorded in 700A.D. and took the name of St
Peter. The first Bishop of Lichfield in 669 was St Chad, he died in 672
but exercised tremendous influence over the region. Dedication of this
first Cathedral was eventually changed to St Peter & St Chad. The second
Cathedral was built in 1100 to a Norman design but was not considered good
enough so the more modern gothic design was started on the same site in 1200ad.
The twin spires are almost 200ft in height and the central tower 60ft taller.
Within the arcades and panels of the front are 113 statues. The Cathedral
suffered tremendous damage during the Civil War. Cannon were used to get
into the fortified close, the central spire was shot down in the course of one
action, restoration programmes took place during the 17th, 18th & 19th
Centuries. The lady chapel is unusual because it is the full height of the
Cathedral and forms a magnificent Eastern termination. Possibly the finest
feature of the chapel is the wonderful long windows filled with stained glass
from the Abbey of Herckenrode in Flanders.
Anne Hathaway's Cottege
This well preserved example of early domestic architecture with its picturesque
thatched roof was the home of William Shakespeare's wife before her marriage.
Her family the Hathaways lived here close to the village of Shottery for some
Stratford upon Avon
Situated on the West
bank of the River Avon. Many 15th and 16th Century timber framed houses
still exist and in many of its streets the essential character of a thriving
market town still purveys. However it can not be denied that it is justly
famous because on or about 23rd April 1564 William Shakespeare was born here and
a few days later baptised at the Parish Church of Holy Trinity. There is
however evidence of a Bronze age settlement in the area and a Romano British
village. A Monastery was founded in Anglo Saxon days and by the year 1196
the town was granted the right to hold a weekly market.
The town name means
ford by a Roman road. In this case over the River Avon and the Roman road
is the one joining the Roman settlements of Alcester and Tiddington. The
ford was actually at the point where Bridgefoot Crosses the River now.
The name was recorded as Stretford approx 700 years ago.
Shakespeare Birthplace Museum
The Cottage was the childhood home of William
Shakespeare. The cottage is authentically furnished throughout with both
original and replica items from this time period of his life. To the rear
is a lovely garden and adjoining is a superb exhibition charting his
professional and private life including a first edition of his colleted plays
published in 1623.
Here in a lovely
park stands one of Englands greatest houses, home of the Dukes of Devonshire.
The first house was built by Bess of Hardwick starting in 1552. Mary Queen
of Scots was a prisoner at Chatsworth at various times between 1569-1584.
Alterations to the original house began in 1686 by the 1st Duke of Devonshire
(formerly 4th Earl of Cavendish) and continued until just before his death in
1707. The house from the outside is imposing but inside is full of beauty,
elegance and splendour. The rooms are full of paintings antiques & some of
the finest furnishings in the country. Much of the fine carving both in
wood and in stone is the work of Samuel Watson of Heanor. The gardens
outside where loosely designed by Capability Brown during the 1760s but most of
what you see today is the work of Joseph Paxton who was a friend of the 6th Duke
and eventually went on to design the Crystal Palace in London. The waterworks in
the gardens are outstanding, the cascade, fountains canal pond & the magnificent
emperor fountain which can throw a jet of water over 290 feet and is operated
solely by the water pressure of the head of water from the large pond
constructed on the top of the hill. A visit to remember in such a
This tiny City (Britain’s
smallest) grew up around the religious settlement founded by St David, (patron
saint of Wales ) in the 6th Century. It is situated on St Davids
peninsula, a Celtic place of pilgrimage and peace, a granite ledge of land
jutting out into the Atlantic ocean. A truly magical place of inspiring
beauty with golden beaches, stunning coastline, nature and wildlife in
abundance. Over the centuries, an important place situated as it is en
route to Ireland. Many are said to have passed this way, King Arthur
landed on St Davids shores, Black Bart, creator of the Jolly Roger embarked on
piracy from nearby Solva Harbour and pilgrims in their thousands have trodden
the ancient roads.
St. Davids Cathedral
St Davids Cathedral
almost hidden from view in a valley at the far West of the city occupies a site
of a religious settlement founded by St David in the 6th Century.
Tradition also has it that he was born here. His mother, so the story
goes, gave birth to him on the spot on the cliffs to the South of the Cathedral
now marked by the ruins of St Nons chapel. The Cathedral with its
wonderful oak roof dates back to the 12th Century (circa 1181-82), for centuries
it was a place of pilgrimage, (two visits to St Davids being equal to one visit
to Rome). Next to the Cathedral are the remains of the ruined Bishops
Palace, how splendid this must have looked in its prime. Uniquely the
sovereign of the United Kingdom is a member of the chapter and therefore has
his/her own royal stall.
Built in your dreams,
Hollywood could not have built a better example of a Norman castle.
Started in 1189 the inner ward consisted of walls and a massive round keep 75ft
high and 50ft in diameter. Five floors beneath a stone dome, the walls at
the base being over 19ft thick. Thought to have been built by William
Marshal Earl of Pembroke in about 1200. The walls of the outer ward date
back to the 13th Century. A castle with a tremendous history
and a major claim to fame. The Birthplace of the Tudor dynasty. You
need no reminder of Henry VIII or Elizabeth I. The Henry VII tower is
believed to house the room where a baby was born in 1456 to a young 15yr old
girl Margaret Beaufort wife of Edmund Earl of Richmond, older brother of Jasper
Tewdwr Earl of Pembroke. This young infant became Henry Tewdwr (Tudor)
went on to become Earl of Richmond after his father died, then defeated Richard
III at Bosworth Field and by right of battle rather than right of descent became
King Henry VII of England first sovereign of the Tudor dynasty. His son
eventually became Henry VIII and his granddaughter Elizabeth I.
The Welsh Valleys
Historically the Coal Mining, Iron Ore and Steel producing area of South
Wales. In 1920 there were 256,000 people working in the 620 coal mines of
the Valleys, producing a third of the worlds coal. After WWII these
industries entered a steep decline with cheaper imports and then following the
miners strikes of the 1980's the government forced the closer of the remaining
pits as they were not economical to run and by 1994 only one coal mine remained
open. The Valleys, as the name implies are an area
of deep sided glacial valleys running from the Brecon Beacons 30 miles from the
cost, these valleys flow like fingers towards the sea. With few roads
leading between the valleys over the mountains the main links are at the heads
of the valleys or down in the lowlands near the coast. This is great
walking and and adventure sports country and the Military use the area
extensively for training. One of the things
the Welsh Valleys are famous for are their Male Voice Choirs, known through out
the world the deep voices are said to come from the coal dust that historically
filled the air of the valleys.
Situated at the
confluence of the Rivers Usk & Honddu in a pastoral vale dominated by the peaks
of the Brecon Beacons. One of the oldest Welsh towns, granted its first
charter in 1246 and in 1366 another charter gave it the right to hold a fair.
The town centre is a mix of Medieval, Georgian, Jacobean and Tudor architecture
with narrow streets and alleyways leading in all directions from the central
square which is overlooked by the 16th Century St Mary`s Church.
On the Western bank of the Usk is Christ College founded in 1541 it incorporates
the remains of a 12th Century friary and its chapel being one of the
oldest places of worship still in use in Wales. The priory church of St
John dating from the 13/14th Centuries was designated a Cathedral in
1923. Although small, only 250 ft long, it does give the impression of a
stark and fortress like strength with its simple lines and massive tower.
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
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
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.