St Albans, DC
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St Albans Episcopal Church, Washington DC
Musical Director Sonia Sutton

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Coventry                                            Probably owes its origins to the erection in the 7th Century of an Anglo Saxon convent.  However it was the later Benedictine Abbey founded by Leofric, Earl of Mercia in the 11th Century that gave the town its impetus to grow.  It was granted its first charter in 1553.  The mechanization of the 19th Century brought the manufacture of sewing machines and bicycles right into the city.  The Daimler company produced the first English motorcar in 1898 and the car industry increased rapidly, giving rise in turn to aircraft production.  It was the aircraft production Germany came to bomb in 1940, it was a cold November night in 1940 when much of the city was wiped out by a devastating fire bombing air raid, thousands of people killed and injured, the Cathedral was also destroyed, leaving only a tower and a spire standing.
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Coventry Cathedral                      In 1951 an open architectural competition for a new Cathedral was held and won by a design by Basil Spence.  A new Cathedral was born, started in 1954 it was finished in 1962.  Today thousands of visitors are drawn to the new building, acclaimed as one of the most striking examples of modern architecture.  The nave is 270ft long and 80ft wide with the focal point a superb 75ft high tapestry designed by Graham Sutherland and woven in France.  The theme reconciliation and unity by all people from whatever religion of whatever creed or colour, the rising of hope from the ashes of war.
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St. Albans                            This ancient city, with narrow, twisting streets was once one of the largest and most important Roman towns in the country.  The Abbey is visible from miles around.  A British settlement existed here prior to the Roman invasion of 54A.D. by the middle of the 1st Century this settlement had become so important it was elevated to the status of Municipium, the only British city to attain such an honour, which accorded the inhabitants the right of Roman citizenship.  The remains of Verulamium were only excavated in the present century, parts of the original city walls up to 12 feet thick can be seen.  The Roman theatre (only one in Britain) has been excavated and restored, semi circular in shapes is 180 feet across and provided seats for over 1,600 people.
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St. Albans Cathedral                         The Cathedral, St Albans Abbey was built on the site where the first British Martyr, Alban was beheaded in 209A.D.  The existing Abbey was constructed by Paul of Caen using materials collected from the ruined Roman city (brick and flint taken from Roman remains) started in 1077 much of the original church remains today.  The church is over 900 years old but the materials used to build it are nearly twice that age.  The nave measures over 275 feet and is the longest in Great Britain, the tower is 144 feet high constructed entirely by the Normans with red bricks from the old Roman city.
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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

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

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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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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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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Stourhead House & Gardens   This superb 40 hectare landscaped garden was laid out between 1741 & 1780 set in parkland and surrounding woods.  A central lake reflects splendid trees, flowering shrubs and offers a visual experience that many say is unequalled anywhere else in Britain.  Exquisite buildings blend easily into the surrounding landscape.  The handsome house is a Palladian 18th Century mansion filled with paintings and fine Chippendale furniture.
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