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St Johns Episcopal Church, Lynchburg, VA
Choir Director Peggy Howell
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Malmesbury                   This is one of the oldest Borough`s in England.  The Old Bell Inn has a 13th Century window.  The town grew rich from weaving in the 7th Century.  The Abbey soaring above the town was originally Norman with 14th Century additions.
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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

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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Winchcombe                   Resting in the leafy Isbourne valley, this was once the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Mercia.  The town has retained many features of its long history and is largely unspoilt by commercialism.  St Peters Church is an excellent example so is the 700 years old pilgrims inn, The George.
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Sudeley Castle               Set against the picturesque splendour of the rolling Cotswold hills, the castle is alive with reminders of its glorious past and Royal connections spanning 1000 years.  The burial place of Queen Catherine Parr the last wife of King Henry VIII.  The castle is also famous for its beautiful rose gardens
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Blenheim Palace          The home of the present 11th Duke of Marlbrough.  The first Duke John Spencer gave battle to the Frence and Bavarian forces at the village of Blenheim in 1704.  He took a force of 50,000 men on a 600 mile march to the Danube were the enemy was waiting in a strong position.  By tactical brilliance and by the personal inspiration he gave his troops, he achieved a great victory.  When he returned to England he was created a Duke and granted the Royal Manor of Woodstock with a promise that a sumptuous palace should be paid for by a grateful country.  The architect of Blenheim Palace was John Vanbrugh who worked with Nicholas Hawksmoor on both Blenheim and Castle Howard in Yorkshire.  Marlborough went on to other famous victories at Ramillies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet.  The Palace was built between 1705 & 1722, it is set in over 2,000 acres of parkland (landscaped by Capability Brown) Blenhalm Palace is the birthplace of Sir Winstone Churchill who was born here on the 30th November 1874.
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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.
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Tewkesbury                    An attractive old town with a wealth of ancient houses and timbered inns.  The Hop Pole being a good example, with a fine 14th Century fireplace before which, in dickens book, Mr Pickwick warmed his coat tails.  Tewkesbury is famous for 2 reasons.
Firstly it is was the scene of one of the bloodiest last battles of the Wars of the Roses.  On 4th May 1417, between Queen Margaret of Anjou for the Lancastrians and Edward IV for the Yorkists.  The Lancastrians where routed, quite a number finding refuge for the night in the Abbey before being turned out the next day, when they were arrested by the Yorkist followers and all executed in the town square.  The site of the battle is well known and can be seen clearly from Lincoln Lane just off the main A38 road.  The battle place is still known locally as Bloody Meadow. 
Secondly the Abbey, their is evidence that Monks were settled in the town by 715 and built a small church in the meadows by the river.  The present Abbey is Norman built between 1090 & 1121 by Robert Fitzhamon a kinsman of William the Conqueror.  The Abbey prospered for over 400 years before being handed over to King Henry VIII in 1540.  The townspeople to their horror, about to see their abbey being destroyed rallied round and raised the enormous sum (16th Century standards ) of £453 to purchase the church for their own use.  The Abbey's tower is the largest and finest surviving Norman central tower anywhere in the world, 46 feet square and 148 feet high.  The West front is dominated by the Great Norman recessed arch 65 feet high.  The massive wooded doors of the North porch are almost certainly the original circa 1121.  It is the second largest parish church in England.  The Abbey is 311 feet East to West, it is held up by 14 great Norman columns, which are the tallest in England, 31 feet high and 6 feet in diameter.  The 7 choir windows contain the original 14th century glass, in the centre of the choir is a brass plate which marks the burial place of Edward of Lancaster, Prince of Wales, who was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury.  The chapels around the Abbey celebrate some of the families who have been associated with it during its long and somewhat turbulent history.
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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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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.
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Warwick                                             The town stands on a North rise from the River Avon which is crossed by two bridges, Castle Bridge and the old bridge in the castle grounds.  It was this dominant situation that accounted for its early importance.  Apart from the castle the most impressive piece of architecture left in the town is the lovely 14th Century Church of St Mary with its 174ft tower and pinnacle.  Situated on the site of an early Norman church.  A number of the Beauchamp family who held the title Earls of Warwick are buried here, the Beauchamp Chapel is incomparable.  Some most delightful pre 1694 houses are to be found in Castle Street.  Outstanding is the isolated timbered house of Thomas Okam which carefully restored is now the doll museum.  Most famous of all the remaining Medieval houses is Lord Leycester`s Hospital, pre 14th Century, situated by Warwicks West Gate, originally the Guild House of St George.  Certainly one of the most unspoilt county towns in England.
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Warwick Castle                                Warwick must compare favourably with any of the great fortress houses of Europe.  The outlines of the original motte or keep with its bailey which included the domestic buildings are still visible.  None of the present buildings however date back before the 13th Century.  The outstanding buildings are Caesar's Tower, the gatehouse or clock tower, Guys Tower which is 128ft high and the South range living quarters dramatically set above the winding river.  The gardens were laid out by Capability Brown who began work in 1753.  The old bridge across the Avon was built late in the 14th Century and has romantically overgrown arches.
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Kenilworth Castle                           Started as a wooden fortress in 1112 by Geoffrey De Clinton. The Keep which still stands today was built in 1162. King John visited several times during his reign. In 1199 the De Clinton family surrendered all rights to the King.  Henry III gave it to his Sister who was married to Simon De Montfort.  In 1361 the castle came into the hands of Blanche of the Lancastrian house who then married John of Gaunt.  It was John that transformed the building from a fortress to a grand castle.  The castle passed from John to his son Henry IV and remained a royal residence till Elizabeth 1st gave it to Robert Dudley.  This was the height of influence at Kenilworth.  Queen Elizabeth visited many times.  But after Roberts death the castle went into slow decline.  During the Civil War Cromwell ordered the castle to be dismantled.  After the restoration it passed into the hands of the Clarendon family who eventually passed it into the care of the state. A magnificent sight to see, when itís red sandstone towers, keep and wall glow brightly in the morning sun.
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