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St John's Episcopal Church, Dallas, TX
Organist and Choirmaster, Benjamin Kolodziej
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Windsor                              Dominated both in spirit and in fact, by its magnificent castle, yet the town itself is very attractive with Georgian and Victorian buildings, church street being one of its prettiest areas.  The parish Church of St John stands in the High Street with railings designed by Grindling Gibbons.  Nearby is the Guildhall designed at the end of the 17th Century by Sir Thomas Fitch and finished by Sir Christopher Wren.  However it is the castle that made the town and still attracts thousands and thousands of visitors every year.
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Windsor Castle                   The castle is the largest inhabited castle in the world and covers over 13 acres.  Its story starts with William the Conqueror who quickly grasped its strategic position and the advantage of a forest for hunting close by.  Since then practically every sovereign has had a hand in the building, Henry II put up the first stone buildings including the round tower, but the defences are still those built by Henry III. Edward III was born at Windsor and loved it, he enlarged the royal apartments and founded the order of the Knights of the Garter, making Windsor a centre for chivalry.  The castle is made up of three parts, the lower ward, which includes St George's chapel, the upper ward in which lie the state apartments and the middle ward where the enormous round tower gives wonderful views over 12 counties.

St. George's Chapel, Windsor        A sumptuous and impressive building which yet gives an effect of light and spaciousness.  The perpendicular chapel was begun by Edward IV in 1475 and completed in the reigns of Henry VII and VIII.  Many sovereigns and famous men and women lie buried here, including Charles I, Henry VIII, Jane Seymour and the present Queens Mother and father.  Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert were also buried at Windsor but in the royal mausoleum at Frogmore in Home Park near the castle.
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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

Cheltenham                   Set on a sheltered ridge between the high Cotswolds and the Severn Vale the town enjoys a pleasant and equable climate.  Cheltenham is one of the finest Spa towns in Europe, with a wealth of regency houses bordering elegant squares, crescents, terraces and open spaces.  George III an inveterate frequenter of spas, visited the town in 1738 and set his seal of approval by staying at Bayshill lodge.  Lansdown Place and Montpellier Parade, among similar thoroughfares and the Rotunda, the design for its dome being based on the Pantheon in Rome.  Montpellier walk with its shops separated by Caryatids must be one of the most unusual shopping precincts in the world.  Out on the Bath Road are two of Cheltenham`s famous schools, Cheltenham College for boys was originally built between 1841 and 1843.  With the nearby Cheltenham Ladies college founded by Miss Beale, the ardent Victorian champion of good education for girls.

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.

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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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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Anne Hathaway's Cottege            This well preserved example of early domestic architecture with its picturesque thatched roof was the home of William Shakespeare's wife before her marriage.  Her family the Hathaways lived here close to the Village of Shottery for some years.    

Stratford upon Avon                       Situated on the West bank of the River Avon.  Many 15th and 16th Century timber framed houses still exist and in many of its streets the essential character of a thriving market town still purveys.  However it can not be denied that it is justly famous because on or about 23rd April 1564 William Shakespeare was born here and a few days later baptised at the Parish Church of Holy Trinity.  There is however evidence of a Bronze age settlement in the area and a Romano British village.  A Monastery was founded in Anglo Saxon days and by the year 1196 the town was granted the right to hold a weekly market.  The town name means ford by a Roman road.  In this case over the River Avon and the Roman road is the one joining the Roman settlements of Alcester and Tiddington.  The ford was actually at the point where Bridgefoot Crosses the River now.  The name was recorded as Stretford approx 700 years ago.
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Shakespeare Birthplace Museum         The Cottage was the childhood home of William Shakespeare.  The cottage is authentically furnished throughout with both original and replica items from this time period of his life.  To the rear is a lovely garden and adjoining is a superb exhibition charting his professional and private life including a first edition of his colleted plays published in 1623.

Gloucester                      Began life as a Roman fort which guarded the lowest Severn crossing and the legions route into Wales (Glevum).  The city later became the residence of Norman Kings, while here William the Conqueror decided on the Doomsday survey.  The city has long been an inland port with its own harbour master.  Famous for its Cathedral it has also been the focal point of other important historic occurrences.  The city's main thoroughfares still follow the Roman roads and meet at the Cross.  In Brunswick Street is a memorial to Robert Raikes who founded the Sunday School movement in nearby St Catherine Street.  The New Inn in Northgate Street was a half timbered 15th Century pilgrims hostelry.  The Ravern Tavern in Hare Lane, once the home of the Hoare Family who sailed in the mayflower to New England.
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Gloucester Cathedral                    The present Cathedral was started in about 1089 by a monk called Serlo from Mont St Michael in France.  The building was consecrated in 1100 though work did continue for some years to come.  The great East window is the largest Medieval window in Europe.  A central tower was built approx 1450 to replace the Norman one.  The tower stands 225 feet high and is one of the glories of Gloucester, seen for miles around.  The first appearance is of a Gothic Cathedral, but further close inspection will reveal its Norman structure.  The cloisters are amongst the finest in England and are the earliest fan vaulted cloister still in existence.  They were built in the 14th Century and contain a magnificent lavatorium in the North range and study carrels in the South range.  The Kings school is very much a part of the foundation, where the Cathedral Choristers are educated.  Music is very much a part of the tradition of Gloucester and is the venue every 3 years for the three choirs festival.
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The Village Inn, Twyning                    Set in the lovely village of Twyning on the banks of the River Avon.  The Village Inn is recorded on local maps as long ago as 740AD and was mentioned in the Doomsday book of 1086.  A very busy Inn dating back to about 1457, nice garden to the rear and overlooks the village green at the front.
Do watch out for the original low ceilings, a delight, but do watch your head, which together with home cooked food, makes this very much a little piece of real England.
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Oxford                              This great university town is, for its history and associations and for its architecture, one of the most rewarding in all England.  In spite of recent industrialisation, its beauty and dignity have emerged relatively unscathed.  The university is the second oldest in Europe, acknowledging only the Sorbonne in Paris as its senior.  In fact evidence of organised teaching can be traced to the 12th Century.  A Chancellor was appointed in 1214 and the collegiate system began in the latter part of the 13th Century with the establishment in Oxford of various religious orders.

Christchurch, Oxford                     Quite unique, a Cathedral serving the Diocese of Oxford and a College Chapel serving Christ Church College.  It was made a Cathedral by King Henry VIII in 1545 after cardinal Wolsey had made it a Chapel of the College in 1525.  The building however dates back to the 12th Century when it was a priory of Augustianain Cannons.  The first recorded church on the site was in the 8th Century.  The spire incidentally, constructed during the 13th Century was the first in England the lovely Gothic chancel added in the year 1500.  A superb collection of stained glass windows still exists dating back the 14th Century with the oldest being the magnificent Becket window in the South transept (a rare example of 14th Century glass in situ).
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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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London the Capital City of England & the United Kingdom         Within a few years of invading Britain in 43AD the Romans had built forts and towns across the land.  They linked these outposts with a number of well constructed roads, some of which had to cross a wide tidal river (Thames).  The Roman engineers eventually picked a crossing point from generally marshy ground on the South bank (with islands of firm ground) to an area on the North Bank situated on two low hills, these hills formed the highest and driest site on the tidal river.  At this point the Romans built their bridge and before long a settlement grew up on the hills and then a City took shape, the Romans called it Londinium.  The landscape that greeted the Romans now lies deep beneath the modern city, upto 8 metres deep, the reason, every new building over the past 2,000 years was built on top of the rubble of the old.

Horse Guards Parade      The former tiltyard or jousting field of Whitehall Palace, used for the ceremony of Trooping the Colour each June to celebrate the Queens official birthday.  The Horse Guards building by which one enters the parade ground from the direction of Whitehall was reconstructed in 1750 prior to which it was the gatehouse of the Palace of Westminster.  The horse mounted guards who stand duty under two archways either side of the clock tower stand guard for just one hour at a time not all day.  The soldiers belong either to the Life Guards (red tunics & white plumes) who formed the bodyguard for Charles I or the Royal Horse Guards (blue with red plumes) who grew out of a regiment formed by Cromwell.  Both regiments now belong to the Household Cavalry which provides the Queens Bodyguard on all state occasions.

Houses of Parliament       The present building occupies the site of the old Royal Palace.  The oldest surviving part of this palace is Westminster Hall (some of the walls dating back to 1097/99).  In 1840 Sir Charles Barry with the help of his eccentric assistant, Pugin began building the neo Gothic new house which still graces Parliament Square.  Although it was badly bombed in 1941 the Commons Chamber was completely destroyed, the new one was opened in 1950.  As you look at the palace from the square the commons are on the left and the lords on the right.  Standing a little to the left of the building is Westminster Hall.  This ancient hall is 290ft long, 68ft wide and 92ft high, it was built in 1097 by William II and modernised by Richard II in 1399.  It was here that Charles I was condemned to death in 1649, Edward II abdicated in 1327, Oliver Cromwell was installed as protector and the Guy Fawkes conspirators sentenced to death.  It was the centre of London life, a very public place in which to have sentence passed. it remains lofty, beautiful, impressive and empty, the oldest part of the palace and the most lovely.
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River Thames                     One of the longest rivers in England at 215 miles in length, it flows from its source near Cheltenham to the sea through some of the most beautiful countryside before becoming the main artery that the wealth of Britain has been bourn.  No river can have influenced a nations destiny more, from Roman times to the present day. 
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Westminster Hall                This ancient hall is 290ft long, 68ft long and 92ft high.  It was built in 1097 by William II and modernised by Richard II in 1399.  It was here that Charles I was condemned to death in 1649.  Edward II abdicated in 1327.  Oliver Cromwell was installed as protector and the Guy Fawkes conspirators sentenced to death.  It was the centre of London life, a very public place in which to have sentence passed.  It remains lofty, beautiful, impressive and empty, the oldest part of the palace and the most lovely.
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Churchill War Rooms         In 1940 as the bombs rained down on London, Winston Churchill, his Cabinet, his Chiefs of Staff and intelligence chiefs were meeting below ground in a fortified basement in Whitehall, later to be known as the Cabinet War Rooms.  They offered shelter in which to work, sleep and live for as long as necessary.  When the war ended the lights were switched off and the rooms left silent and untouched for many years.  The rooms were in operational use from 27th August 1939 to the Japanese surrender in 1945 the war cabinet held more than 100 meetings in these somewhat cramped rooms.  Without doubt some of the most important decisions of the Second World War were taken here. 
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Buckingham Palace         Until the 18th Century the original site was occupied by Buckingham House which was bought by George III in 1762.  When George IV acceded the throne in 1820 he commissioned John Nash to build a palace fit for a King on the same site.  Much of the original structure and decoration survives to this day.
The British Monarchy

Banqueting House            Completed in 1622 and designed by Indigo Jones, it was the first building in London to embody the classical Palladium style together with the use of Portland stone in the construction.  Built originally as a part of Whitehall Palace it was the only building to escape the great fire which destroyed the Palace in 1698.  The main hall is 115ft long and 60ft wide but it is the ceiling which catches the eye.  Painted by Rubens for Charles 1st in 1629-34 it depicts the Apotheoses of the Stuart Dynasty in nine panels, which should be viewed from the far end of the room.  In 1649 Charles 1st stepped out of one of the windows of the hall on his way to the scaffold erected outside in the yard, to his execution.  Ironically Charles II celebrated his restoration to the throne here 20 years later.  Still used for state banquets and official functions by the Government and the Queen.  

10 Downing Street            Has been the official residence of the Prime Minister since Sir Robert Walpole, the first Prime Minister lived here in 1732.  The street was named after its builder, Sir George Downing.  The iron gates were erected for security reasons in 1989.
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Westminster Abbey                          Legend has it that the first Church built on Thorney Island in the Thames was built by King Segbert in the 7th Century, there is also mention of a Charter from King Offa of Mercia to the people of Westminster granting land.  We also have a Charter from King Edgar in the 10th Century for the restoring of the Benedictine Abbey.  It is also written that a substantial foundation existed in Westminster when King Edward the Confessor became King in 1042.  We do know that Edward started to build a Church here close to the previous building and it was consecrated on 28th December 1065.  Eight days later Edward died and he was buried in front of the high altar.
William the Conqueror was crowned in that Abbey on Christmas Day 1066. this Coronation began a tradition and all Kings and Queens of England (Britain) with the exception of Edward V & Edward VIII have been crowned in the Abbey since that date.
Work began in 1245 in rebuilding the Abbey. The work proceeded rapidly and by 1269 the Quire and one bay of the Nave was completed.  At this time the body of St Edward was removed and laid to rest in a Chapel bearing his name.  In 1272 Henry III died and his body was buried in the front of the high alter where Edward`s had once lain.
The complete history of this famous Abbey would take many pages to write, hence it is possibly to conclude by saying “many Kings and Queens together with famous people lie buried within its walls and therefore this one building is a unique testament to 1,000 years of the history of the British people”.

St. Paul's Cathedral, London        The original Cathedral was built on Ludgate Hill by the Anglo Saxons in 604A.D. built of wood it burnt down and was rebuilt on a number of occasions.  The present Cathedral was started by Sir Christopher Wren in 1675 and it took 35 years to build.  The Cathedral was damaged during the Second World War with bombs falling through the roof and destroying the alter and one damaging the North transept.  A famous picture taken at the time shows the cathedral surrounded by fire and smoke and through the gloom appearing unscathed the dome of St Pauls rising dominantly and defiantly from the inferno below, a source of inspiration to the whole country in its hour of need.  In the crypt lie buried, Wren, Nelson, Wellington and many other famous British people.  The peel of 12 bells is outstanding and the choir of 38 boys and 18 men maintain a very proud tradition.
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Tower of London               Built by William the Conqueror because he did not trust his new people.  Over the years it has been a garrison, armoury, prison, royal mint and royal palace.  Among well known heads that have rolled or languished in the tower were Kings of Scotland, France and England.  Lady Jane Grey, Duke of Monmouth, Queen Elizabeth for six months, Sir Walter Raleigh and many more.  There is even a gate directly off the river called traitors gate.

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.