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.
Bere Regis, Hardy Cottage
A small town situated on
the South West Road out of London. The town has a superb Medieval church
famous for the Ravaged Tombs of the Turbervilles the family which inspired
Thomas Hardy`s Tess of the D`Urbervilles.
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
Blandford Forum (Shottersford Forum) Has the most handsome and uniform Georgian red brick and stone town centre in the South West. Due mainly to the great fire of 1731. The fire began on the site of the present Kings Arms. Within one hour all fire engines were burned together with all ladders and in the end over 400 houses. From reports of the time eye witnesses stated that the Church bells dissolved and ran down in streams. Today the town is a hub of a rich farming area. I am sure no one will need telling that Blandford was Thomas Hardy`s - Shottesford Forum.
A small china clay port,
surprisingly pretty with late Georgian houses surrounding a very interesting
small harbour. The location for a number of films, the most recent a three
You can actually get
further from habitation here than anywhere else in Southern England. Set
on a plateau mainly over 1,000ft high, extending some 23 miles from North to
South and 13 miles from East to West mainly treeless and uncultivated, a granite
base overlaid with peat. In the 12th Century it was found to be the
richest source of tin in Europe. Freelance miners rushed in from all
directions, exhaustion of the surface tin together with the black death in 1349
which hit the moorland settlements very hard, ended the boom. The moor is
now a protected area and national park.
Thomas Hardy made his home
here in 1883. Many buildings in the town are associated with Hardy, St
Peter`s church, Kings Arms, White Lion Hotel, The Corn Exchange, Barclays Bank
and Grey`s Bridge together with 39 South Street the home and office of John
Hicks the architect for whom Hardy worked from 1856 to 1862.
Founded by the Romans
in 50A.D. who surrounded the town with a great red stone wall, some parts which
can still be seen today. Under the Anglo Saxons it became a very important
place and was twice ravaged by the Danes once in 876 when they occupied the town
for three years and again in 1003. Following on after the Norman invasion the
town held out till 1068 before finally accepting defeat after an 18 day siege by
William the Conqueror. The town was an important cloth manufacturing area
and because of its strategic position close to the coast trading centre right up
to the late 18th Century. Two attractive areas in the city are
the Cathedral Close and the area of the quay. Some Medieval pubs still
remain, The Ship, White Hart, Turks Head together with some fine timbered
buildings. Much however was lost in the German bombing of 1942 which
flattened a great deal of the city.
Magnificent setting, its
harbour is claimed to be the third largest natural one in the world. It
also claims to have the most temperate climate of any resort in the UK.
Sir Walter Raleigh landed here in 1590, however it did not become a parish till
1664 and not till 1670 did it have a quay. Truro and Penryn being the more
important ports. However the coming of the larger ships gave the town its
chance, in 1688 it was chosen as the mail packet station and by 1827, 39 ships
where delivering letters all over the world. The arrival of the steamships
heralded the decline in Falmouths fortune but in 1863 the first tourists
discovered this jewel in the South West. Still a busy port servicing large
tankers up to 90,000 tons and many smaller vessels tie up in the multitude of
small creeks that run off the Fal Estuary. A very important embarkation
area for ships heading off to France on D-Day 6th June 1944.
Plenty of places to eat with many old pubs backing onto the main street which runs
parallel to the main quay.
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.
The spectacular hillside
garden is beautiful throughout the year with spring flowering bulbs and shrubs,
colourful herbaceous borders and fine trees. The garden is surrounded by
parkland and woods which offer lovely walks. The house is furnished as a
comfortable family home and includes a music room. Upstairs the Pauline de
Bush collection of costumes from the 18th Century to the present day is
displayed in a series of period rooms.
Lacock Abbey and Village
The old English word "Lacuc"
means small stream. Was recorded in the mid 9th Century as "Lacok".
A small tributary to the River Avon runs close by. The village with its
twisted streets, gabled roofs and timber buildings is one of the prettiest in
England. Most buildings span the centuries Medieval to 18th Century.
The local church of St Cyriac with a fine perpendicular roof. The Abbey
was founded by Ela Countess of Salisbury in 1229, she became the Abbess and
served for 17 years. In the 17th Century the Abbey passed to the Talbot
family under very romantic circumstances. Olive a daughter of the house
was locked up by her father so she would not continue with an affair with a
Talbot. Olive leapt from the Abbey into her lovers arms, nearly killing
him in the process. Both in fact were saved by the petticoats that Olive
wore, as she fell they billowed out so breaking her fall. By her courage
and devotion to a Talbot her father let her marry and the Abbey and village
remained in the Talbot family until 1944 when Miss Matilda Talbot gave
everything to the national trust.
Overlooking Falmouth Bay
and St Anthony head is situated this delightful garden, landscaped by Robert
Dudley Cook for the past 14 years. A paradise with unusual plants around
every corner, its' contrast and beauty make it a perfect place to visit for
garden lover and expert alike.
Lost Gardens of Heligan
the First World War, when its 22 gardeners left for Flanders (most never to
return) Heligan lay untended for over 70 years. Discovered anew in 1990
and now the site or the largest garden restoration in Europe, a living time
capsule of the Victorian era.
A busy Medieval port and
cloth town, one of the first seaside towns in the South West, beloved of Jane
Austen and the society of Bath. Three moments in history took place here,
in 1588 the first skirmish between Drakes fleet and the Armada took place in the
bay. In 1644 when strongly supporting Parliament it withstood a two month
siege by the Royalists. In 1685 when the Duke of Monmouth landed on the
beach with his followers before raising the rebellion. The most attractive
place is the old harbour called the Cobb a little West of the town first built
in 1300 by local fishermen. Also made famous when the filming of the
French Lieutenants Women took place here some years ago staring Meryl Strepp.
National Maritime Aquarium
largest aquarium in Britain giving the experience of a fascinating underwater
world. A collection of marine life from across the world from the shores of
Plymouth to the coral reefs of Australia. Over 70 sharks from more than 10
different species ranging in size from the small dog fish to the large sand
tiger shark. A superb venue situated in a marine City rich in maritime
heritage the NMA is at the forefront of marine science and conservation.
Newquay Has the most magnificent beaches in Cornwall and is a very popular seaside town. Fistral beach is probably the best sea surfing beach in the country. A most interest harbour and surrounded by lovely countryside ideal for walking.
Visited by St Peroc in the
6th Century who so legend as it came from Ireland in his coracle.
From then untill the arrival of the West Saxons in the 9th Century it
was the ecclesiastical capital of Cornwall. In the Middle ages it was used
as a stopping place by Irish pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela in
Spain. It became important for the building of ships until during the late
19th Century when the estuary and harbour began sanding up which
caused the terminal decline in this important industry. One important
house still standing is Raleigh`s Court house, a 16th Century
building on the South quay from where Sir Walter Raleigh, when he was warden of
Cornwall, presided over his court. The main church is the 15th
Century St Petroc`s with its fine strong tower and excellent stonework.
of the most celebrated names in British maritime history, there are now over 40
communities spread round the English speaking world with the name Plymouth.
Its potential as a major deep sea port was not really recognised until the turn
of the 13th Century. It became the base of the English Navy
during the Elizabethan era. The time of Drake, Raleigh, Hawkins & Gilbert
when it was used extensively to guard the Western approaches from the Spanish
fleets. It was from here on the Hoe on Friday July 19th 1588 that Drake, while playing bowls, was told of the
approach of the Spanish Armada. Ignoring advice he continued with his game
until completed. Then he boarded his vessel the Golden Hind and set off
after the Spanish.
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.
SS Great Britain
Launched in Bristol in 1843 the ship was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel,
famous Victorian engineer who also designed the Bristol suspension bridge.
This was the first ship fitted with a screw propeller, first to have an iron
hull and first to have a 1,000 horse power engine. On her first voyage
across the Atlantic she set a new speed record.
A monument to English perpendicular style. Enter via the tower which is dated
1545-49 and is somewhat later than the rest of the church. Three
outstanding things to look for. The very famous lane aisle, which represents the
full development of superb fan vaulting. While the Nave ceiling is a
wonderful example of West Country church builders in achieving a timber roof
with curved trussed rafters boarded on the underside to form a wagon ceiling
divided into square panels. There is also an exquisite Medieval Rood
Screen running the width of the church, remarkable for its completeness.
A magnet for artists who
come here from all over the world. The shape and exquisite situation are
superb for both artists and tourists alike. Testament to the wonderful new
Tate gallery built overlooking Porthmeor Beach. Famous during the 19th
Century for its fishing port, pilchards being the catch and copper and tin being
the exports. It was when these industries started to decline in the 1880s
that the town was discovered by the painters who flocked here from the polluted
towns finding the clean air and clear light ideal. The best part of the
town must be the area situated on the neck of land between the harbour and
Porthmeor beach. Lots of small streets, alleyways and small shops. the
church is 15th Century with an original Waggon shaped roof.
Many famous people have visited over the years, John Wesley found it an
excellent place for converts which is reflected in such street names as Teetotal
and Salubrious place. I find it a wonderful place to wander, unfortunately
so do many others, therefore you may find the town very busy with likeminded
St Mary Redcliff, Bristol
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 Apire 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
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.
Built by Sir Henry Trecarrel between 1511-24. Not of limestone but of
granite. Difficult to achieve using stone but to carve granite, a phenomenal
result. Nice roof with over 400 bosses and the Rood Screen is Gothic circa
St Mary, Ottery St Mary
Twin Towers, high gables & triple lancet windows, sounds
but a closer inspection will suggest typically English. The Church did
have French origins. A curious sprawling design with a long chancel, is one of
the most unforgettable expressions of the style. It was rebuilt by Bishop
Grandison of Exeter, after he had purchased it from its original patrons,
Secular Canons from Rouen Cathedral. In 1337 he set up a college of 40
members at Ottery and in 1342 he commenced rebuilding of the Church using Exeter
Cathedral as a model.
Beautifully situated on the
Cornish South coast, at the Eastern side of the entrance to the Carrick Roads.
The name of the town derives from that of its patron, Saint Mawdeth, a rather
obscure Celtic Monk. The church is mentioned in a document of 1345 as
being dedicated to Sanctus Maudetus. There are several thatched houses on
the waterfront overlooking the bay, behind the quay the narrow streets rise
steeply, with fine views over the river.
St. Michaels Mount
At high tide it
must be reached by boat. At low tide it is possible to walk across the causeway
and up its steep cobbled pathway to its battlements. At some time in the
past it was joined to the mainland. Takes its name from the dedication of
its Chapel to St Michael the Archangel. In the Doomsday book it was
recorded as Sanctus Michael. According to an old Cornish legend, St
Michael appeared to some fishermen on the Western side of the island in about
500AD In 1044 a Benedictine Monastery was founded on it. Then owned
by the Monks of Mont St Michel off Brittany in France, to which it bears a
striking resemblance. In 1425 the crown ejected the Monks and it became a
fortress due to its strategic location. It then passed from noble to noble
until 1657 when the St Aubyn family bought it. It remained as the family
home until 1954 when the national trust acquired the land. A population of
approx 40/50 people still live on the island, mainly around the waters edge in a
Harbourside community. The church is of particular interest being of 14th
Century origin with a fine North door.
The town grew up round a Benedictine Abbey founded in approx 974. For most
of its recorded history the town has had but two owners, the Abbey from 974 till
1539 when Henry VIII closed it down and sold the buildings and the Russell
family (Dukes of Bedford) until 1911. Famous for tin mining in the 1300s
and when that industry declined in the 1500s it thrived as a cloth centre.
As the cloth industry in turn declined the discovery of iron and silver played a
large part in the wealth of the district. However by 1902 most of the
mines had closed and the town turned more and more to agriculture and commerce.
Very little remains of the old Abbey. The present parish church of St
Eustacious was built in the 15th Century. Sir Francis Drake the great
English sea Captain is commemorated with a statue. He was born just a
short distance from the town. The town is now famous for the Goose fair
held over three days starting on the second Wednesday in October. One of
the legacies of the Abbey which was granted in 1105.
The village is nice but
nothing special so why do tourists and writers flock here form all over the
world, the answer lies on a ruin strewn headland a short but steady walk out of
town. Legend and romance connect this headland with King Arthur, the ruins
to his Camelot overlooking the sea, but is it another Loch Ness story.
Yet even without the legend it is still worth the effort to make the journey.
The peninsula is known as the island and without doubt the best place to see the
great black slate caverns on the North side of Tintagel Cove. A Monastery
was definitely founded here in 500A.D. and records indicate abandoned in approx.
1086. A castle was then built by Reginald Earl of Cornwall in 1145, these
are the ruins that can still be seen.
Many want to associate this
truly magical place with Merlin & Arthur, but history and fact I am afraid are
not on their side.
25 acres of garden set in
parkland overlooking the Fal River, Carrick Roads and the harbour. The
property offers a port of call of exceptional beauty for general and specialist
visitors in a county already remarkable for its breathtaking coastal landscapes.
Capital city of Cornwall,
the commercial hub of the area. During the Middle ages it was an important
port for the export of iron ore, it is now a market town and an administrative
centre for the county. Stood for the King during the Civil War but really
history has passed it by.
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
Weston Super Mare
A very popular seaside resort on the North Somerset coast, just over 200 years
ago a relatively small village of just over 170 inhabitants it has now grown
into a fair sized town of over 50,000 people.
A friendly small market town set in the Dorset countryside. First settled
as a site by the Romans but not developed until the 8th Century by the Anglo -
Saxons. Raided many times by the Danes it was here in 871 that the body of
King Ethelred was bought after being slain in a battle nearby. It was
Cuthberga to whom the Minster is dedicated, a sister of the Wessex King Ine, who
founded its ecclesiastical importance by giving it a nunnery in the early 8th
Century. This was later destroyed by the Danes. The Minster church
dominates the town. Dating from the Norman period. It is of all
periods up to the 15th Century. Particularly not to be missed are two 16th
Century effigy tombs, the superb Norman purbeck marble font, the enormous clock
(1320) and above the vestry, the chained library, which includes church wardens
accounts from 1403. Many Georgian buildings exist around the town and
walking the narrow cobbled streets takes one easily back in time of the coach
and horse. The name Wimborne comes from the Olde English words "Winn"
meaning pasture and "Burna" meaning stream. We therefore have meadow
stream. To associate with the River Stour which runs nearby.
In the Anglo - Saxon chronicle of 893 the town is referred to as Winburnan