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St Luke's Episcopal Church, San Antonio, TX
Choir Director Russell Jackson

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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Berkeley Castle            Built over 800 years ago and still the ancestral home of the Berkeley family who still live there, the family, of course, have close associations with Berkeley U.S.A.  The oldest castle in Britain to have been continuously lived in by the same family.  Built as a fortress and used as a home, during its chequered history it has been the scene of sieges during the civil war and terrible deeds.  Its walls in some places over 14 feet thick, turrets and towers stand majestic.  This was the scene in 1327 of the frightful murder of Edward II, he was imprisoned in a cell close to the castle dungeon, a deep pit into which rotting carcasses and half alive prisoners were thrown.  It was anticipated the stench and filth from the dungeon would overpower the prisoner in the cell.  However Edward survived for 5 months and ended up being tortured to death by his jailers.  The castle is also the site of the great hall where the West Country Barons met before setting off to meet King John for the signing of Magna Carta in 1215.  Small but a real example of how we think a castle should look.
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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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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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Tintern                             Large impressive Cistercian Abbey in beautiful riverside location in the Wye valley.  It has been the subject of a poem by Wordsworth and a painting by Turner.  The order was founded in 1131 by Walter de Clare.  Little is left of the original building, it was built here deliberately, in keeping with the strictness and austerity of the order.  The abbey was completely rebuilt in the 13th Century and in 1326 Edward II stayed here for 2 nights.  The Abbey continued to be active and generally undisturbed until the dissolution in 1536.   From then on the Abbey became neglected and fell into disrepair.  Greatly regarded by the romantic movement in the late 18th Century for its peace and tranquillity.
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Chepstow Castle            Is one of the very first stone castles in Britain.  Built by the Normans soon after the Battle of Hastings, it was started by William Fitzosbern in 1067.  It was never attacked in the Middle ages but was besieged twice in the Civil War when being held by the King.
In various places one can see old red sandstone and yellow sandstone.  The castle stands on a natural limestone ridge with the North face falling on to a steep vertical cliff into the River Wye.  The castle occupies a very important position on the River Wye.  Being a very strategic crossing point from England to Wales.  Chepstow comes from the Olde English words of “Ceap Stow” meaning market place.
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Cardiff                                The capital city of Wales boasts a castle with 1,900 years of history first built by the Romans, some of the 10ft thick walls still remain.  The Normans came and built their castle which has been in continuous occupation ever since.  Some of the area surrounding the castle is now occupied by a superb modern shopping centre.  Hundreds of acres of parkland situated right in the city centre, museums, the civic centre, University of Wales. St Davids Hall, a 2,000 seat concert and conference centre.  To take the city into the millennium the new Cardiff Bay project, a redevelopment of the old Cardiff docks area.
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Haw Bridge Inn                Built in 1630 as a stop over place for boats, where the old toll bridge crossed the river Severn.  Many a boatman has taken a sip of ale and a Ploughman’s lunch within these walls, while watching the boats plying their trade on this once busy stretch of river.  Today, just pleasure craft glide slowly by. But the Inn still retains the ambiance of a bygone age nestling as it does on the banks of the river.  Flagstone floors, oak panelling & oak beamed ceilings.  Collections of horse brasses and Toby jugs adorn both walls and ceilings.  Home cooked food, enjoy this little piece of real England.
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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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