Nativity, AL
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Episcopal Church of the Nativity, Huntsville, AL
Choir Director Suzanne Purtee
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Harewood House                  This magnificent 18th Century mansion planned by Robert Carr and decorated by Robert Adam is situated in landscaped grounds completed by Capability Brown in 1772 and set in rolling countryside.
Room after room reflects exquisite craftsmanship of the 18th
Century. Superb chimney pieces, ceilings, carpets, mirrors and furniture by Chippendale.  Harewood also has a notable collection of paintings by Tintoretto, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Sargent, Turner & a host of other Italian Masters.
Do make time to see the sweeping terrace designed by
Sir Charles Barry (architect of the Houses of Parliament) which overlooks the formal gardens.
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York                                           The fascinating townscape of this walled city illustrates much of its nearly 2,000 years history.  York possesses in its Minster the largest medieval church in Northern Europe, the general scale of its building is small and human.  Even today York seems more medieval than almost any other English town.  The compact core is a treasure house for anyone interested in history, architecture or ancient crafts, and is best seen on foot.  The Romans called the place Eboracum, and built a fort in AD.71.  Under the Angles, York was capital of their Kingdom of Deira.  King Edwin was baptised here by Paulinus, who became the first Archbishop of York in 634.  The Danes captured and burnt York in 867 and it was their capital in England for nearly 100 years, they called it Jorvik and it is from this that the present name derives.  There is nothing left to see of Anglo Saxon and Danish York, but the use of the word gate for street is a reminder that the Danes did settle here.  The Norman's found a thriving little trading centre and burnt it in 1069 during their frightful ravaging of the North, and then rebuilt the walls, expanding them to take the present 263 acres.  Medieval York is everywhere, not least in the web of narrow streets.  The Shambles and Stonegate are two of the best preserved examples.  Too the East of the Minster is the half timbered St William's College.  Three of the nine Guildhalls still survive.  All the city walls are medieval rebuilt on the Roman and Norman foundations in the 13th Century.  A 2.5 mile footpath on the walls gives a circular tour of the city.  In the middle ages, York was England's second city a great religious and commercial centre.  A lovely city with much to see and enjoy.
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Web Link to Historic York

York Minster                    The Minster is York's chief glory, appropriate to the dignity of an Archbishopric, built between 1220 and 1470, it contains England's greatest concentration of medieval stained glass, principally from the 13th and 14th Centuries.  The two most famous windows being the five sisters and the magnificent 15th Century east window, the largest in the world.  The Ministers length is 518ft and is 241ft wide at the transept.  The central tower rises 198ft and is the largest lantern tower in Britain.  The 14th Century Chapter House with seven lovely window walls has no central support for its conical roof, just the great buttresses on the eight sides.  The Choir was completed by 1400 and its great climax the east window with 2,000 sq ft of ancient glass by John Thornton of Coventry was finished in 1408, the massive towers came last.
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Castle Howard                        Seen against the backdrop of the Howardian Hills, the splendour of Castle Howard is all the more astonishing.  The largest house in Yorkshire, designed by Sir John Vanbrugh this was his first house (his second was Blenheim Palace).  The clerk of works was Nicholas Hawksmore, a partnership of brilliance.  It was started in 1700 but by the time of completion in 1737, the 3rd Earl of Carlisle, who commissioned it, Vanbrugh and Hawksmore were all dead.  The total cost of building was a then staggering £78,000.  The house is set in over 1,000 acres of parkland, has two lakes and is home to a vast treasure of pictures and antiques.
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Selby Abbey           Situated just 12 miles from York and surrounded by picturesque countryside.  The Abbey was founded in 1069 by Monk Benedict of Auxerre and is built to Cathedral  proportions being 300 feet long and 55 feet wide.  It is of course Norman in design with 8 tall Norman arches and a superb large East window behind the High Altar.  The Abbey`s most famous feature is the 14th Century Washington window which is to be found high up in the Quire. This celebrates the life of John de Washington a Prior in the Abbey.  Yes he can be traced to the same family tree as George Washington.  If you look closely at the window you will see it bears the Washington family coat of arms which forms the model of the present day American flag.
The Abbey was severely damaged by Cromwell's soldiers during the English civil war and was gutted by fire in 1906.  However it still remains a wonderful monastic building with many original features.
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Alnwick Castle     The main seat of the Duke of Northumberland. this great border castle whose walls enclose 7 acres of park has survived many battles during its chequered history.  Below and around the castle are grounds landscaped by Capability Brown in 1765 which now form a beautiful park.  The castle was begun by the Vesci family in the early 12th Century.  When the last legitimate member of the family line died in 1297 the castle was held in trust by the then Bishop of Durham who subsequently sold it on to Henry Percy in 1309.   The family Percy eventually became Dukes of Northumberland and have lived here ever since.  Outwardly the castle has altered little since the 14th Century.  However it was severely damaged during the border wars and stood as a ruin for nearly 200 years before the 1st Duke restored it in the 18th Century.  Some of the state rooms in the castle are open to the public displaying superb paintings by Titian, Tintoretto, Canaletto & Van Dyck.  Augmented by collections of Meissen pottery and superb furniture the fine library is the largest room in the castle and the main staircase exquisite.
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Alnwick Castle Gardens    The rose garden with over 2,000 roses, the grand cascade linking over 120 water jets into a display utilising 7,000 gallons of water per minute. Ornamental Garden, woodland walk and much more as this garden opened only very recently begins to grow.
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Edinburgh                    The Capital of Scotland, with origins in the Iron Age.  Although Edinburgh did not become the capital until the 12th Century the history of the city is really moulded around one street, The Royal mile.  At the foot lies Holyrood House, still a royal palace today, where Mary queen of Scots lived and where Bonnie Prince Charlie had a brief triumph of his celebration ball after capturing Edinburgh in the 1745 rebellion.  At its head the castle towers on its great rock.  Between the two, the royal mile winds its way along the spine of the rock with its pre 18th century Edinburgh, tall, many storied houses clinging to the steep hillside.  Yet Edinburgh is not just about history, the new town is just as picturesque with wide streets and crescents.  With princes street flanked by gardens on the south being described by many as one of Europe's finest thoroughfares.  The ladies will find Edinburgh's Shops just fine. 
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Edinburgh Castle        The Oldest part of the castle is St. Margaret's Chapel built early in the 12th Century.  Apart from this we know very little about the early buildings on the site.  We do know that the castle walls began to take their present form from about 1356.  Since then many additions and changes have taken place.
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St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh    Three of the soaring spires on the famous skyline of Edinburgh belong to the Scottish Episcopal Catherdal of St Mary the Virgin.  Consecrated in 1879 the Cathedral is still the home to a thriving congregation.  After the abdication of James VII in 1689 the reformed church in Scotland divided over the issue of the Stuart succession. Two churches came into being.
The Presbyterian Church established by King William and the Episcopal church loyal to the Stuart cause.  St Giles the Edinburgh Cathedral came under the established church which left the Episcopal ministry with no Cathedral of its own.  For many years they worshipped in an old woollen mill then the church of St Paul in York Place.  Always dreaming of the day when they would eventually have a Cathedral of their own.  However it was not until the middle of the Nineteenth Century that the dream started to become a reality.  The Walker Sisters local landowners bequeathed the residue from the sale of their estate “Drumsheugh” to the building of a new Cathedral.  A trust deed was drawn up which came into effect on the demise of the last surviving Sister Mary in 1870.  In 1872 a competition was held to find a design of the new building which was won by Sir George Scott.  However he was asked to add two more spires to his original design.  The foundation stone was laid on the 21st May 1874.  The nave was opened on the 25th January 1879 and daily services have been held every day since.
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St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh        St Giles was the Patron Saint of Cripples, he was a Greek born in Athens in 640AD. The building was dedicated to St Giles in 1243.  There has probably been a church on this site since 854. The oldest parts of the present building are 4 massive central pillars thought to date back to 1120. The church was burnt down by the English in 1385.  However over the following 150 years it was enlarged and enhanced.  It was from here that John Knox (Scottish reformer) appointed Minister of Edinburgh in 1559 led the reformation of the Scottish Church.  The tie with Rome was broken and the administration of the Church of Scotland evolved into Presbyterianism.  Although it must be said that for two periods in the 17th Century the Church was Episcopalian.  Mary Queen of Scots held Parliament in 1563 in the outer tollbooth section.  During that time it was the market place at the centre of the cities activities.  Many tales of torture, execution, bravery and treachery started life within the walls of this building.  Which today echoes a violent past and yet by careful renewal points a way forward to the future.
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