St John, NM
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Cathedral Church of St. John, Alberquerque, NM
Director of Music, Maxine Thevenot

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Stonehenge                  There is nothing quite like this awe inspiring monument anywhere else in the world, yet at first sight it is curiously disappointing, probably because it is set on a plain so vast that in comparison the stones seem quite insignificant.  It is only when man stands close to the stones that he seems so puny in comparison and it is hard to imagine how centuries ago, with only primitive tools to help them, men could possibly have placed these huge boulders into position.
The actual building falls into three phases.  Phase one which took place in the late Neolithic period somewhere around 2,000 years B.C. but little is known of this work.  Phase two took place between 1,700 and 1,600 B.C. We do know at this point about 80 blue stones, brought over by sea from the Prescelly mountains in Pembrokeshire, Wales, were placed in two concentric circles, with the entrance at the N.E. this work was never finished.  Phase three which took place between 1,600 and 1,300 B.C. during the Bronze age.  At this time the blue stones were moved and about 80 enormous Sarsen stones were dragged here from the Marlborough downs.  The whole history of Stonehenge covers the period from about 2,200 B.C. to 1,300 B.C. but exactly why it was built remains a mystery.  One fact remains the axis of Stonehenge was carefully aligned with the sunrise on 21st June, the longest day of the year.  Was it built in order to calculate the annual calendar of the seasons?
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Salisbury                       A town where there is no need to go looking for interests in dark corners, it is all around.  The city dates back to the 13th Century when it was decided to move the Bishops seat  from Old Sarum.  The Cathedral foundations were begun in 1220 and the city started to grow.  Salisbury was built on a grid or chequer system which left space between the blocks.  Cathedral Close is the most beautiful in all England and the list of buildings with interest is unending.  It is interesting to note that the main wall around the Cathedral Close was granted by license from Edward III.
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Salisbury Cathedral          The first sight of the Cathedral is most impressive an early example of English architecture.  Its spire soaring to a height of 404ft the highest in England which imposes almost 6,000 tons of stone on the four pillars of the crossing.  The Nave measures 198ft with a clear uncluttered beauty, little having changed since it was built.  With Foundations no more than 4 feet deep on a bed of gravel, the main building was begun in 1220 and completed in 1258.  The Cloisters and Chapter house being finished in 1280.  It was never a Monastic institution but staffed with Secular Clergy called Canons.  This arrangements continues today.  Canons would be away in their parishes for most of the year, just coming back to the Cathedral for short periods of time.  The present houses round the close are built on the sites of the former Canons' Houses.
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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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Wells - Bishops Palace    Situated adjacent to the Cathedral the ruins of this magnificent Palace bear testament to the influence and wealth created by the Church in Medieval times. Most of the construction was overseen by Bishop Henry de Gower in the mid 14th Century. He spared no expense on creating this lavish residence. Originally built with two sets of state rooms set around a courtyard. He used one set for private business and the other for the ceremonial entertaining. The Palace fell into disrepair in the 16th Century. It is said the then Bishop stripped the lead from the roof to pay for his five daughters dowries.
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Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company        A small artisan cheese manufacturer who still produces cheddar cheese by hand and ages the cheese in cloth for upto 20 months.  Historically cheese was aged in the caves of Cheddar Gorge. Some is still done this way today. The first recorded mention of cheddar cheese was in 1170 when King Henry II is recorded as ordering 10,250lb of cheese for his court.
To be called cheddar cheese, manufacture had to be completed within 30 miles of Wells Cathedral, but nowadays you can find cheese called cheddar produced all over the world.
During the Second World War and after, while rationing was still in force the only cheese that was allowed to be made was cheddar to a standardised recipe. Before the 1st World War there were 3500 producers of cheese in the UK, after the 2nd World war there were only 100 remaining.  This small dairy is the only cheese producer in Cheddar Gorge.
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The Cotswolds               Developed from the Anglo Saxon words Cot and Wold, Cot meaning sheep pen. Wold meaning high windy ground, that certainly can describe the area well, especially in the winter.  The soil is poor on the Wolds and not a lot of it but a great area for rearing sheep.  Hence the numerous villages with lovely churches (known as wool churches) built by wealthy landowners centuries ago.  The area is also famous for the Cotswold stone a soft stone which yellows with age.  Many cottages will be seen built of Cotswold stone.
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Cotswold Images

Cirencester                    The Capital of Dobuni when as Corinium Dobunorum in 43A.D. it became one of the chief Roman administration centres for South West of England.  In the 4th Century with the withdrawal of the Romans the town went into decline until an Anglo Saxon town was built.  It slowly regained its importance with the development of sheep rearing on the rich Cotswold meadow lands.  The wealth from the wool trade was tremendous, so much so that the merchants of the town were able to build one of the greatest wool churches in the town.  The 15th Century St John the Baptist Church with its superb tower and three storied fan vaulted porch.  It has been judged one of the most beautiful perpendicular churches in England.
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Burford                           Can certainly lay claim to being one of the most beautiful Cotswold towns.  A superb High Street slopes gently down to a three arch bridge spanning the River Windrush.  Some of the buildings such as the Bear Inn, Crown Inn and the Grammer School can readily identify their roots in the 15th Century.  A fine church exists, St John, hidden from view down a lane at the foot of the High Street.  A wonderful mixture of accretion (add on's as and when money became available or persons so decided) the tower is definitely Norman so is the West Doorway.  The Guild of Merchants chapel circa 1200 but remodelled in the 15th Century.  In May 1649 Cromwell imprisoned a group of mutineers in the church for 3 nights after which they were to be shot.  When three had been executed Cromwell relented, one of the group “Sedley” scratched his name on the font.  In even earlier times the Anglo Saxons defeated the Mercians at the battle of Edge now a playing field near the church.  It is also written that in 683 a council was convened at Burford attended by the King of Mercia at which the date of Easter was fixed for the English church.  The wealth of the region coming from the surrounding sheep country during the middle ages.  To really appreciate Burford take time to walk the High Street.
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Bibury                             Best seen in the fading light of a warm summer evening, the houses of golden stone many with cottage gardens facing the River Coln.  William Morris described Bibury as the most beautiful village in England.  Sit on the wall by the river watch the trout running in the crystal clear water and across on the island a protected nature reserve with wild duck and many species of bird.
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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, 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.
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 Redcliff in America.

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SS Great Britain            Launched in Bristol in 1843 the ship was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the very 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.
SS Great Britain continued on the high seas until 1894 after travelling 32 times around the world and completing nearly 1,000,000 miles of sailing.  Eventually she was abandoned in the Falkland Islands in 1937 after serving as a floating warehouse for over 40 years.  There she remained a rotting and rusting hulk.  But that was not the end of her story because in the late 1960s a fund was launched with the sole aim of bringing her back to Bristol.  In 1970 the dream was realised and a tremendous salvage exercise took place to bring her back home.
After many years of careful conservation she now rests in the same dry dock where she was originally built 166 years ago.
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ZaZa Bazaar                International Buffet, food from all over the world. Eat what ever you like, as much as you like.  On some of the food stations you can select ingredients and watch while they cook your dish fresh in front of you.
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