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Christ Church Cathedral, Hartford, CT
Musical Director Kevin Jones

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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
A superb example of medieval architecture and once described by Queen Elizabeth 1st 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 Redcliffe in America.
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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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Berkeley Castle            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.
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Glastonbury      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.
Web Link to Glastonbury Abbey
Web Link to Glastonbury Town

Wells                            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
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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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